Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10-26-2014 - I Don't Think I've Ever Actually Had A Turkey Leg

This past weekend we drove over to Florence for another year's Renaissance Faire. The last trip was in 2012 and I blogged about it here so I'll try not to repeat myself.

This year was much warmer by about 40 degrees over 2012 and that was much kinder to the belly dancers.

Nobody believes me, but I was more interested in the drummers and their darbukas. Or doumbeks. Depends on who you ask.

Every year we come for the Bud's Homemade Rootbeer. Looks like the $3 bottle of root beer that Esther had two years go is the $5 bottle this year. Some of the larger bottles are now $2 to refill. DAMN YOU OBAMA!

This cephalopod inspired work is the stoneware craft of Stacy Morgan at the S.P. Morgan Studio and really needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate. If you look at her gallery you'll see that she has an eye for tentacled motifs and a touch of the macabre and has created some of the most detailed "pottery" I've ever seen.

Esther stopped to pick up a hand-drawn map of the world of Avatar from this tent. He had many maps of different popular fantasy locales from Hyrule to Tamriel as well as classics like Middle-earth. He does work by commission and is working on a queue of different worlds that he's yet to map. When I get a chance I'm going to send him some scans of the Sword Coast and Icewind Dale. He can be reached at if you're needing to find your way around ancient Scotland or Neverland (or Skyrim, Hundred Acre Woods, The 9 Circles of Hell, Westeros...)

This is the very enthusiastic and all around friendly guy, Stan Bruns with some of his art that was for sale. Stan is an illustrator by trade and has taught graphic illustration in Chattanooga and been a guest at Dragoncon in Atlanta, among other things.

We took a quick stroll down the "bridge to nowhere" or Old Railroad Bridge (oldest river bridge in the state!) above the waters of the Tennessee River; this time minus one Benny but with a girl on loan from another family.

All the other pictures from the day are right here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10-17-2014 and 10-18-2014 - Because We Hadn't Camped Enough

(Starting this post I'm doing something different. I'm not back-dating my post to the day it happened. I'm posting it when I post it, with the event date in the title.)

After returning from our two week of camping in Florida with the Mouse the next logical thing to do was to go camping again... To be fair, "camping" on-site in Disney World is on the far end of the comfort scale above almost anything but sleeping in a hotel room with cable TV. For a couple of weekend nights I took Jake and Chan to sleep in a tent near Piedmont to hang with friends and bike on the Chief Ladiga Trail for a few miles. 

We set up at the Chief Ladiga Trail Campground. I have mixed reviews of the campsite... The website is pretty horrible at providing accurate information or anything vital like the cost. The site lists both "semi-primitive and full service sites available" but I can tell you for a fact that the only running water and power hook-ups are right next to the bathhouse and are being used by the person that is staying on-site. This is the same person that will answer the phone (on occasion) but not, we suspect, the actual owner.The "store" that is listed on the site as having "drink, snacks, supplies and souvenirs" was locked and closed and appeared to be mostly empty. Maybe it opens in the busy season? Of the information on the site, the most accurate is that for the bathhouse. These were some nice, big, clean and warm bathhouses. I have no complaints about the water temperature or the available room in the bathhouse. The sinks are limited, but the toilet and shower stalls are nice.

The actual camping sites are nice by the creek, but aside from three other sites and the area where we set up, shade is limited. Like I mentioned, water and power are not an option. The campsite was not bad, overall. If you were expecting something different or you weren't able to contact the caretaker on the phone, you might be in for a surprise when it comes to amenities.

We were charged $20 a night per family (per site). I'd love to find out what the other people that were staying paid for their sites. $20 for primitive camping, even with access to a bathhouse, is not super competitive but the guy is the only game in town.     

This land shall be ours and we shall sleep in our sacks and snore

The trail itself, I'm love with. The Chief Ladiga (if you didn't click the link) is 33 miles from Anniston, Alabama to the Georgia state line. From there it becomes the Silver Comet Trail. The whole thing is paved from end to end and is relatively flat considering it's built on mostly train beds.  

Along the way are several bridges of different designs and construction.

A few local businesses have sprung up to support the heavy bicycle traffic on the trail. The picture below is of a "snack shack" that was closed during our trip but other places like Cottonmill Krawfish Bike Shop seem to be doing well.

That night we worked out a few issues with our gear (prepared for electricity, not so much for campfire) with the help of our friends and souped and dined. 

On Friday we biked about 7 miles round trip but after a night of cooking out and huddling around the campfire we headed into Piedmont for a proper lunch and a more extensive ride on Saturday.

I'm screaming because my butt is sore

Along the way we paused (coming and going) at the Eubanks Welcome Center that is just off the trail and extremely welcoming to bikers.

This was our lunch destination, the Solid Rock Cafe. They serve a verity of sandwiches and deli food. I've found they get fairly high marks at Urban Spoon and favorable reviews through Google+. I have no complaints about the food and the price was a bout what I expected. I think the size of our group (5 adults, 5 teens and 5 younger kids) kind of overwhelmed them and we did accidentally manage to arrive in town in the middle of a celebration of sorts... there was a little waiting but it was a beautiful day and once the orders were straight I think it turned out just fine. We found the most room for our squad on the courtyard out back. Bonus- we could smell the barbecue being cooked past the alley and across the street. 

The street was shut down all around the deli and there was some sort of town festival happening that we just sort of walked all the bikes in to. Nobody seemed to care and everybody was friendly. I thought it was odd that no other bikers were stopping in town. 

After wandering around and looking at old cars we all sort of took to the trail in groups- the kid group and the not-kid group (with two in tow). I took the time to find a handful of geocaches on the trail with some help from some of the adults. The kids had expressed interest in looking with me earlier but it was the grownups that came through for me in the end. It can go either way.

There was a geocache on this bridge
The next morning there was a consensus among my clan we headed out before bike riding could happen to our delicate bottoms. It's been a while since any of us have done any lengthy ride and were were on borrowed bikes that were not specifically sized to us. Having the bikes there to use was awesome, but our backsides were done for the trip and we skipped out on the next ride. Sadly, we missed biking to the state line (which would have been cool).

Thanks to our two families of friends that helped us cook soup and get hot water as well as let us borrow three bikes and the helmets. Thanks for the beverages and the conversation around the fire, it was a great trip to come home to after Florida!

Thanks also to my wife who opted to stay home with the one sick kid and let me have the adventure with the kids this time.

All the pictures from the 17th and 18th.

2014 Disney Trip Pictures

Yes, we did spend two weeks in Walt Disney World! Yes, it did take me nearly another two weeks to crop, resize and upload pictures!

Instead of spending time dishing out the details and events of each individual day I'm going to start with what most people want to see anyway- the pictures. I'll pick up some posts later about observations and things that we really enjoyed or points of interest that maybe some folks aren't aware of. I don't want to take up the next month talking about just Disney because already I've had two fantastic weekends in the real world that I want to share soon.

9/29/2014 - Animal Kingdom
9/30/2014 - Magic Kingdom, EPCOT 
10/2/2014 - EPCOT
10/3/2014 - Blizzard Beach
10/6/2014 - EPCOT